RPT-Illegal VW diesel emission systems may require two solutions

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

VW ‘cheat’ could require two fixes.

As the crisis engulfing disgraced automaker VW worsens, British motorists will no doubt be scratching their heads and wondering how the scandal might affect them.Wolfsburg, Germany – Volkswagen will repair up to 11 million vehicles and overhaul its namesake brand following the scandal over its rigging of emissions tests. New chief executive Matthias Mueller said on Tuesday the company would tell customers in the coming days they would need to have diesel vehicles with illegal software refitted, a move which some analysts have said could cost more than €6.5 billion (R100 billion). Volkswagen hasn’t yet said how many cars are affected in the UK. • 1.2 million Audis, of which 1.42 are registered in Western Europe, 577,000 in Germany and 13,000 in the US.

Meanwhile in Washington, US lawmakers asked the automaker to turn over documents related to the scandal, including records concerning the development of a software program intended to defeat regulatory emissions tests. In separate letters, leading Republicans and Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested information from both Volkswagen and the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of an investigation into the controversy. It’s possible that the necessary software update will leave Volkswagen drivers with a car that doesn’t perform as efficiently as they were told it would when they bought it. “Motorists will be looking to the government to clarify a situation like that,” said Simon Williams, RAC spokesman. “At the moment there are lots of questions and not many answers. The company is under huge pressure to address a crisis that has wiped more than a third off its market value, sent shock waves through the global car market and could harm Germany’s economy. “We are facing a long trudge and a lot of hard work,” Mueller told a closed-door gathering of about 1000 top managers at Volkswagen headquarters late on Monday. Volkswagen did not say how the planned refit would make cars with the “cheat” software comply with regulations, or how this might affect vehicles’ mileage or efficiency, which are important considerations for customers.

Colin Harvey, senior motor underwriting manager at Aviva, said: “Our car insurance customers can be reassured that there are no implications for their insurance and they will continue to be covered as usual.” This includes a scenario in which a driver chooses not to fix their car. Manipulating emissions results allowed Volkswagen to keep down engine costs in a “clean diesel” strategy that was popular in Europe and at the heart of a drive to improve US results. The crisis is an embarrassment for Germany, which has for years held up Volkswagen as a model of its engineering prowess and has lobbied against some tighter regulations on automakers.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters he was not worried about damage to the economy from Volkswagen’s problems, “at least, not if we deal with it sensibly.” Investors are impatient for answers too. A survey of 62 institutions by investment banking advisory firm Evercore found about two-thirds said it would not be possible to invest in Volkswagen over the next six months if costs, fines, legal and criminal proceedings were outstanding or inadequately quantified.

Refitting 11 million cars would be among the biggest recalls in history by a single automaker, similar in scale to Toyota’s 2010 recall of more than 10 million vehicles over acceleration problems, though dwarfed by the number recalled by multiple carmakers due to faulty Takata airbags. It said Spain, which offered subsidies of €1000 (R15 700) for energy-efficient car purchases, would ask for the money back from the car manufacturer and not consumers. Wolfram Herrle, chief prosecutor in Audi’s hometown of Ingolstadt in southern Germany, was quoted as saying a preliminary investigation had been launched to see whether to initiate formal proceedings against the company. Among those suspended in the scandal were Ulrich Hackenberg, the head of research and development at premium brand Audi, who oversees technical development across the group. Volkswagen’s promise to fix pollution control systems on about 11 million diesel vehicles could involve changes to software, and possibly hardware, that would increase fuel-consumption, reduce performance or require more maintenance.

Volkswagen has admitted using software that circumvented US and California pollution rules by fully activating the exhaust scrubbing systems only when the car was being put through precisely prescribed government emissions tests. That meant the cars were able to pass laboratory tests that showed they met the relevant regulations, but then switched off the emission control devices while driving. VW began installing the illegal software in late 2008 on two-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engines fitted with devices known as “lean NOx traps,” designed to reduce nitrogen oxides – linked to smog, acid rain and lung cancer – in engine exhaust.

Any device used to control nitrogen oxide emissions typically “diminishes the performance and fuel economy” of diesel engines, according to automotive consultant Sandy Munro. From 2012, however, Volkswagen offered the same two-litre TDI engines with a more sophisticated and expensive emissions control system called Selective Catalytic Reduction, which injected a liquid urea solution into the exhaust to break down the nitrogen oxides. Trahan said there were concerns within the company about the urea consumption being so great that it would require separate “fill-ups” every 8000km, rather than the desired 15 000-km intervals that are typical between engine oil changes. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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